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US slammed for targeting HK's trade offices abroad

By Hu Yuyan and William Xu in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-01 09:37
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Officials from the central authorities and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, along with representatives from the city's various sectors, strongly opposed the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday for passing the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Certification Act.

They said the move is malicious slander against the just and legitimate objective of the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and smears the work of Hong Kong's overseas trade offices.

In a strongly-worded statement issued on Thursday, the HKSAR government slammed the US' targeting of the city's Economic and Trade Offices — set up outside the city as the official representatives of the SAR to promote economic and cultural exchanges — as "factually wrong" and politically motivated.

The Hong Kong government has established 14 overseas ETOs in accordance with the "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law, including three offices in the US in Washington, New York and San Francisco.

The act proposes to remove the privileges, exemptions and immunity enjoyed by the ETOs and even their closure, and aims to damage beneficial trade and cultural ties between Hong Kong and the US, the statement read.

The committee completely disregarded the status of the Hong Kong SAR under "one country, two systems", committed malicious slander against the just and legitimate objective of the implementation of the National Security Law, and ignored the fact that human rights and the rule of law are properly protected in accordance with the law by the SAR government. This amounts to a gross interference in the affairs of Hong Kong, the government said.

The SAR government stressed that if the US insists on undermining the mutually beneficial relations between Hong Kong and the US through the act, it will ultimately harm the interests of the US and its companies.

Also on Thursday, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR urged the US to immediately stop advancing the act.

A spokesperson from the office said that with the full support of the central government and the joint efforts of all sectors of the city, Hong Kong is steadily moving forward on the track of "one country, two systems", and the city's status as an international financial, shipping and trading center has been further consolidated.

With the National Security Law and the revamped electoral system, Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms in accordance with the law have been effectively granted, and international investors see a safer city with a more stable and predictable business environment, the spokesperson continued.

The spokesperson pointed out that almost all major US financial companies are operating in the city. The US business community also remains optimistic about the development prospects of Hong Kong and the entire Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Against that backdrop, a handful of US politicians have deliberately concocted the malicious bill targeting Hong Kong and politicized economic and trade issues. Their actions are against the will of the people and destined to be in vain, the spokesperson added.

The US committee's move triggered widespread opposition in Hong Kong. On Thursday afternoon, members of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the SAR's largest labor organization, and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest local political party, protested near the US Consulate General in Hong Kong.

DAB vice-chairman Holden Chow Ho-ding stressed that the US enjoys major economic interests in Hong Kong and the bill will only damage its own trade relations with the Hong Kong SAR and the entire nation.

In a social media post, Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan said that the international community recognizes the "one country, two systems" principle and the unique advantages it brings to Hong Kong. The success of the National Security Law in curbing violence and chaos has also been witnessed by the international community, she added.

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